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Introduction to Agriculture in San Diego

San Diego County agriculture contributes a total of $2.88 billion to the local economy. It is one of the largest industries in San Diego County as well as one of the largest agricultural industries in the nation. Even with these prominent national rankings, San Diego County agriculture is still one of the county’s best kept secrets. Perhaps this is due, in part, to its unique setting and various agricultural components.


  San Diego Agricultural Components

Mild Climate

The average annual temperature hovers around 63.65 degrees with sunshine for ~73% of the time. Combine these components with the many subclimates present in the county and the result is a year-round production of a variety of crops and livestock products.

Expensive Land

The value of agricultural land is San Diego County is more dependent on the real estate value than the value as an agricultural input. The result is that San Diego County has one of the highest prices for farmland in the country. This makes it difficult for new entry growers because of the large capital investment needed.

Poor Soils

San Diego County soils are generally poor and unsuitable for agricultural purposes. Only six percent of the soils in the country are considered prime for agricultural use. As you might expect, most of this prime soil is rapidly being developed or is unavailable for farming. San Diego County farmers must work hard to improve the soils available and to find crops that are suited for the specific characteristics of the soil type in their farms.

Expensive Water

Water prices and water availability are the main concerns for growers in San Diego County. In fact, San Diego County growers pay some of the highest water prices for agricultural water in the state, some growers paying 30-times more than those of the Central Valley Project or the Imperial Irrigation District. Beyond skyrocketing water prices, water availability is also an important factor to consider. Specifically when choosing a location, growers should really consider water availability.

Small and Numerous Farms

According to the San Diego County Agricultural Commissioner, there are 6,687 farms, more than any other county in the US, in San Diego County. Approximately 68% of those farms range between 1-9 acres in size with a median size of 4 acres. San Diego also ranks #1 in having more small farms (less than 10 acres) than any other county in the US.

Growth and Urbanization

Agricultural production occurs in an agricultural-urban interface that characterizes San Diego County. In addition to the City of San Diego, there are seventeen incorporated cities/communities in the county. And, the county’s population is increasing rapidly with current population of approximately 3.3 million. This growth in population will ultimately result in expanding demands for resources and an increase in constraints for local farmers, making agricultural production even more challenging.

Local Markets and Direct Marketing

***Need to do more research here

Environmentally Sound Production Methods and Systems

Due to the challenges facing agricultural production in an ag-urban interface, San Diego County growers use a variety of production practices, techniques, and systems that are environmentally sound. These environmentally sound practices make efficient use of the limited resources offered in an ag-urban environment, as well as minimize the impact of agriculture on the environment. ***Need to do more research here


Summarized Crop Values by Selected Commodity Groups for Crop Year 2018 


 –––––The graphs below represent the major crops in San Diego County per the 2018 calendar year. This first graph displays the percentages of all crops grown in San Diego County, whereas the second graph displays the percentages of the top 10 crops grown in San Diego County. Additional crop data for San Diego County may be found in the annual Crop Report, produced by the County of San Diego Agricultural Commissioner.

San Diego County Crop Reports

2019_Crops by group overall
2019_Top 10 Crops overall-01
*Courtesy of San Diego County Crop Report*